Last updated: February 19. 2013 7:56PM - 187 Views

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WILKES-BARRE – James Wesser has been a spotter for the National Weather Service for several years.

But he enjoys going to the training classes both as a refresher and for the opportunity to meet those working in meteorology.

The Bear Creek resident recalls when he called in a report of pea-sized hail, of which the service was unaware.

It was a good feeling to provide necessary information to benefit my own community, said Wesser.

He was at one of those training classes Thursday night at Wilkes University's Stark Learning Center. There, meteorologists from the National Weather Service of Binghamton, N.Y., held its Winter SKYWARN training for more than 30 participants in weather observations and accurate reporting procedures.

Spotters are volunteers actively participating in reporting to the weather service, and their job is to keep local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of weather conditions.

Meteorologist Erik Heden, who presented the training, said spotters are invaluable to the National Weather Service, providing information about what is happening in their community at a certain point in time.

Dave Nicosia, warning coordination meteorologist, lauded the more than 260,000 spotters across the United States who consistently provide accurate weather information.

Radar and advanced technology are important. said Heden, but spotters are vital to our collection of information.

An average of 10,000 thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States each year. Since the 1970s, SKYWARN has provided opportunity for residents to save lives and property by reporting weather conditions as soon as possible.

Class participants had a passion about both learning about the weather and assisting residents of their communities during severe weather conditions.

Now that I am retired, I feel that I have a duty to help others, said DiAnne Wolfe. I heard about the program but didn't know of local participation until recently.

The two-hour training consisted of an overview of weather concepts and specific training in regard to identifying dangerous weather conditions.

Dale A. Bruns, dean of Wilkes' College of Science and Engineering, said the school was honored to host the event.

Meteorology has been a part of our curriculum for over two decades, said Bruns. This is an opportunity to engage our students in the local community.

Information regarding local and national weather information can be accessed at www.weather.gov.

Those interested in becoming volunteer spotters can contact Heden at erik.heden@noaa.gov.

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